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“High Desert” Review: Apple TV+ Series is a Messy, Bumpy Ride

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Where to stream it? Apple TV+ (premieres May 17)

Starring: Patricia Arquette, Wereuche Opia, Rupert Friend, Brad Garrett, Matt Dillon

Written by: Nancy Fichman, Katie Ford, Jennifer Hoppe

Directed by: Jay Roach

Intro: High Desert Season One Review

The series starts with us meeting Peggy (Patricia Arquette) and Denny (Matt Dillon), a husband and wife combo, as they have a big get-together with some friends and family at their house. The party comes to a crashing halt as the FBI storms in and raids the home, leading to Denny going to jail. After this, the series gives us a ten-year time jump where we see Peggy living in this small desert town.

It's been many years, and Peggy is still trying to discover her way in life. From working in the town to struggling with her addiction, things go further south with her mother's passing. As her life is crashing, she sits at a bar with her friend Carol figuring out how she will make money. Her brother and sister are breathing down her neck to sell her mother's house that she's living in.

While this conversation is happening, a commercial for a private investigator comes on, and Peggy mentions how he is the guy that ripped off her friend. This leads to her deciding her next goal is to become a private investigator herself.

So she goes after the man in the commercial, Bruce (Brad Garrett), and explains that she will work for him now and make them lots of money. Her work with him is very hit-and-miss. He tells her things and she does the polar opposite. However, her tenacity and desire to solve a big-time missing person case while the business is on the verge of bankruptcy leaves him with no choice but to trust her.

Patricia Arquette leads a fantastic ensemble cast

Often we see actors just come in, kill a part, and move on. With Peggy, it's almost as if this role was meant for Patricia Arquette and her alone. One of the best things the writing team did with Peggy is fully develop her story that connects you to her journey through the series. Arquette is a delight in the role and brings some strong comedy chops to this troubling character.

Speaking of the ensemble, I loved what Matt Dillon and Brad Garrett brought to their respective roles, but I absolutely adored Rupert Friend as Guru Bob. He was such a great chicken-shit style of villain that it became easy to sit back and enjoy the pain his character suffered.

Another stand out was Weruche Opia as Carol. My biggest bone to pick with High Desert is we didn't get more of Carol on the screen. She was one of the most underdeveloped characters on a show I've seen in a long time. It sucked because when Opia was on the screen opposite Peggy, she was fantastic. If, for some reason, we get a season two I hope we get more Carol.

A ride that was too bumpy for its own good

Have you ever looked at a roller coaster and thought that you are about to have the time of your life, only for it to be a massive letdown? That's what it felt like watching High Desert.

The writers do a good job of establishing the premise, but they struggle to put the puzzle pieces together in a way that fully develops as the season continues. I was frustrated with several episodes as they focused on vital things that could've easily been thrown to the side.

And don't even get me started on that lackluster ending.

Final Thoughts: High Desert Review

Overall, the High Desert journey is somewhat of a disappointment considering the strong effort from the cast to make the show great.

While I didn't hate the show, I think the weekly option for the show would be better suited as an all-in-one binge. I recommend High Desert slightly because of Patricia Arquette's greatness in the series.

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Ricky Valero
Ricky Valero
Ricky Valero is a movie/TV critic whose favorite movies are The Departed, If Beale Street Could Talk, Fast Five, and La La Land. Currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, while not watching movies, he is either enjoying the latest Stand-up Comedy special or another dating reality series. He is also a member of the Critic Choice Association, the Hollywood Critics Association, and the Music City Film Critics Association.
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